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Pulisic injury update
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Lampard issues Pulisic injury update, verdict on halftime subs

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Days after hailing Christian Pulisic as a player who can reach the levels of Mohamed Salah and Raheem Sterling, the American’s manager at Chelsea was detailing the player’s injury concerns.

Frank Lampard got another strong performance out of Pulisic in Chelsea’s 1-0 win at Leicester City in the FA Cup quarterfinal on Sunday, but removed the player with 18 minutes to play.

“He felt tightness in his calf during second drinks break so took him off straight away,” Lampard said, via Football.London. “We’ll see in next day. Andreas had a problem in his hip, didn’t feel comfortable in training yesterday so was out of the squad.”

[ MORE: U.S. coach Marsch wins Austrian double ]

The game was not in Chelsea’s favor at halftime, and the manager did not hesitate to remove three young players.

Reece James was the best of the three but was removed for mainstay Cesar Azpilicueta, while struggling Billy Gilmour and Mason Mount were replaced by Mateo Kovacic and eventual goal scorer Ross Barkley.

“Mason has given a lot of input in two games this week. Reece hasn’t played in a long time, Billy the same. They are going to be top players for this club no matter what. A fact of how I saw the game. They all train well, have great work ethic. Just the circumstances today.”

We’ll hope for the best on Pulisic, who will want to continue to assert himself as a starter before Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, and perhaps others arrive for Chelsea’s 2020-21 season.

Plus: “Christian Pulisic, FA Cup winner” would be a nice line for the USMNT star’s resume.

Guardiola praises Liverpool; injury update

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With the Premier League games coming thick and fast as midweek action now takes center stage, Premier League managers have been giving us injury updates on Monday and Pep Guardiola has praised Liverpool.

Pep Guardiola has doffed his cap to Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool once again, as the Reds have now moved 16 points clear of second-place Man City and have a game in hand on the reigning Premier League champions.

“We can’t deny Liverpool are extraordinary,” Guardiola said. “But everyday I live thinking about what we can do better. Some games are good, we concede few. We have scored more than Liverpool. I don’t have stats here but we concede more chances and drop points.”

In short from Pep: Damn, we should have signed more, and better, defenders this summer. Oh, and the injury to Aymeric Laporte was unlucky.

Guardiola has confirmed that Laporte is close to a return to fitness after the silky French center back missed the last four months with a knee injury. He also confirmed that both John Stones and Benjamin Mendy are doubtful for the trip to Sheffield United on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

That starts our quick round up of injury news around the Premier League ahead of the midweek games…

  • Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said that Reece James has avoided a serious knee injury after coming off against Newcastle. He could play against Arsenal (Watch live, 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and Marcos Alonso is also back in the squad. 
  • Mikel Arteta said that Sokratis will not play at Chelsea due to illness, while Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson will both be out until early February.
  • Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that star Brazilian attacker Richarlison will miss their clash against Newcastle United on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com) as he continues to recover from a knee injury. 
  • Newcastle’s injury woes continue as both Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett have been ruled out for the rest of the season. Willems has ruptured his ACL after falling awkwardly in the 1-0 win against Chelsea. The Magpies will have to do some business in January to patch up their squad.
  • Southampton look set to be without Jan Bednarek for their trip to Crystal Palace on Tuesday (Watch live, 2:30 p.m. ET online via NBCSports.com). The Polish center back, who has started every single PL game this season, has an Achilles injury. Palace welcome back Max Meyer as he’s recovered from an ankle injury caused by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s lunging tackle.
  • Bournemouth could have Lloyd Kelly back after his lengthy injury, as the Cherries take on South Coast rivals Brighton in a massive game at the bottom of the table.

Hudson-Odoi scores first Premier League goal in Chelsea cruise

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Three different Chelsea players scored in a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jorginho, Callum Hudson-Odoi, and Tammy Abraham scored for Chelsea, who was without injured Christian Pulisic.

The Blues stay fourth in moving onto 39 points, while Burnley’s 24 are just four clear of the Bottom Three.


Three things we learned

1. Abraham’s baker dozen just the tip of the iceberg: Tammy Abraham has a nose for goal, and the 22-year-old now has 13 league goals this season despite not regularly impressing in other areas of the field. He may still dip in and out of play, sometimes for entire halves, but watch out if Frank Lampard is able to harness his knack for goal into a complete product.

2. Burnley tempting fate: We’re not here to doubt Sean Dyche, but the statistics are quite ready to ask whether the Clarets can defy logic again to remain in the Premier League. Over-simplified: Burnley readily concedes possession and doesn’t pass the ball well, depending on hustle and pressure to produce chances (as well as long balls lumped to the forwards). Its 68 percent passing will finish last in the top flight, and we’re able to project that in January. Still Dyche will probably just beat up everyone and finish 15th. His teams get it done.

3. James staking his claim: Chelsea’s 20-year-old right back Reece James was very good again on Saturday, providing an assist and forcing Nick Pope into a big save in the first half. Already an excellent passer with a willingness to tackle, the future is very much his for the taking.

Man of the Match: Willian had his nose in everything his side of the pitch, and just gets the nod over James.


Burnley thought it was ahead when Jeff Hendrick headed Ben Mee‘s flick home, but the midfielder was offside.

Chelsea then found its way to the spot when Matthew Lowton‘s short slide caught Willian inside the box.

Jorginho calmly wrong-footed Nick Pope for 1-0 in the 28th.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

The Blues made it 2-0 when Reece James crossed for Abraham to nod past a baffled Pope.

The Burnley keeper would make a point-blank save on James in the 41st for a measure of redemption.

Hudson-Odoi broke his Premier League duck in the 49th minute, the first to Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross as Burnley’s defenders were nowhere.

Report: Chelsea in pursuit of Bayern Munich’s David Alaba

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A new, natural left-back may be on his way to Stamford Bridge this winter.

Chelsea are weighing in on placing a $78-million (£60 million) bid for Bayern Munich’s David Alaba, according to a report.

Longtime left-back favorite, Marcos Alonso, has fallen in Frank Lampard‘s pecking order, making just eight Premier League appearances this season. As a result, the 41-year-old has recently instead shifted captain Cesar Azpilicueta from his natural right-back position to the left side.

20-year-old Reece James now features as the Blues’ right-back, a glaring indicator that Lampard isn’t sold on either Alonso or 25-year-old Emerson Palmieri.

Alaba, 27, has a contract with the German giants until the summer of 2021, meaning that the transfer price is not coming at a reduced price.

Debuting for Bayern’s first team in 2010, Alaba has since made 250 Bundesliga appearances, scoring 22 goals and jotting 25 assists. This season, he’s featured 17 times for the champions throughout all competitions.

At the age of 17, Alaba earned his first cap with Austria; since then, he’s registered a total of 72 caps.

The Blues are free to engage in the transfer market after their appeal on a two-window transfer ban was ratified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in early December.

Lampard: Chelsea youngsters can’t worry about January transfers

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Frank Lampard knows it’s only natural that some of Chelsea’s youngsters will have worries about the January transfer window and the Blues’ newfound ability to sign players, considering they were only afforded a first-team opportunity by the club’s transfer ban.

[ PL Preview: Chelsea v. Bournemouth ]

He doesn’t, however, want those thoughts and fears to dominate their thoughts for the next three weeks, until the window opens and Chelsea can sign players for the first time since January of this year. As Lampard sees it, the fact he has roughly $200 million to inject into the squad doesn’t necessarily mean they promising teenagers and early-20-somethings will immediately be cast aside. It does, however, mean he has to navigate this very unique set of circumstances extra carefully — quotes from the Guardian:

“I haven’t banned the talk [about the January window], but I am not going to set out to engage in it. If players want to come and see me and talk then I will happily have a conversation with them individually, but that hasn’t happened.

“I speak to them regularly. I can be, not hard on them, but I push them because I think they need that. I think they feel the trust I have in them because they know I’m prepared to give them the opportunities if they train well and they come in the team and play well. I think they should naturally feel a little bit of tension all the time so that’s not the worst thing.

“They just need to work and believe in their own talents because their talent is there for all to see. We also have to be patient with that because it may take different periods of time for them to fully blossom as players. They might have a period in and out of the team, have a run of the games and then not. I am prepared to stick with them through that because I really believe in them.”

22-year-old Tammy Abraham currently sits second in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot with 11 goals in 15 appearances. 21-year-old Christian Pulisic, while not an academy product, has shone brightly of late with a half-dozen goals and nearly as many assists to his name in the last two months. 20-year-old Mason Mount was a surprising revelation in the season’s opening weeks. 21-year-old defender Fikayo Tomori has been a regular starter for the last three months. 20-year-old Reece James has made the starting job at right back his own.

While the temptation to sign high-priced replacements for these budding stars will be hard to resist, perhaps Chelsea would be wiser to sign players in other positions and ride the wave of what could turn out to be a golden generation of homegrown products.